F some snow dust hovers over the Arvidsjaursjön, one of around 4,000 lakes in the Arvidsjaur region in Swedish Lapland. The 10 square kilometer surface is covered by a layer of ice that is almost 50 centimeters thick, so even fully grown trucks can roll over it. Currently, however: A horde of VW Passat Variant R-Line Edition, whose moonstone gray paint is covered with snow from round to round. Here, despite its 272 hp four-cylinder turbo engine and lush swell, the rather well-behaved family station wagon can put on the worn leather robe and let the rocker hang out.
Fully disengageable ESP as a fun factor
Because While the company is tinkering with the great drive revolution and will refrain from developing new combustion engines from 2026, there is a little revolution in this Passat: its electronic stability control, widely known as ESP (actually a Mercedes term for this technology), can be completely deactivated. What's the point? In everyday life: nothing. Here: everything. Gaudi. Drifting across the street, brave drift angles, looking at the world from the side window. But also: vehicle control, training reflexes, understanding physics in general, and particularly the load change. Of course, the all-wheel drive based on the Haldex principle allows a power distribution of 50 to 50 at best, and that only when the front wheels slip. Pure power oversteer is therefore more likely to be avoided, it only crops up in the direction of the exit of the curve.
The solution: Commuting, load change via the brake, it's okay. The long wheelbasecalms down, forces you to be patient before you step on the gas again, but especially this middle right, which merges into a longer left, which in turn forces itself into a narrower right, in order to then escape into an eternally long almost straight, hui, because the station wagon flies. In principle, you only flip around between second and third gear in the dual clutch transmission, enjoy the quick reactions, and sometimes get annoyed that it doesn't hold the gear, upshifts too early. But the Passat special model, limited to 900 units, plays along well, can be triezen, helps you with its communicative steering, which does not harden even with quick changes of direction. There are 400 spikes each two millimeters in length, which above all increases braking performance on the ice. In the infinite, angeditschen bend in the furthest corner of the circuit, however, it helps to briefly hook the inside front wheel into the snow at the entrance to allow the rear to get around a little faster. Then you can also use third gear here. But does it have to?
What comes from VW R - electric?
Jost Capito, Head of Volkswagen R GmbH, gets out of a T-Roc R, 300 hp - and strong asked. People are satisfied with the demand for the compact SUV, which has been available for a few weeks. In Germany, VW subsidiary Seat reports a share of 30 percent of the technically almost identical Cupra Ateca in the series, competitor Hyundai also delivers around a third of the compact car i30 in the N variant, optionally with 250 or 275 hp. No car looks any different. Will there be a purely electric VW R at all, Mr. Capito? 'Yes, definitely. But it has to pay off just as much as an R model with a combustion engine. So we tell the markets what the car can do and what it would cost, then we get a sales forecast back. If this seems too low, the technology must be adjusted again. The eR1 is also used for this purpose, so we can also show our importers what is possible. ”
An electric Golf R is already on the road
The eR1 is an electric vehicle based on the Golf which is driven by the findings from the three record drives (Nürburgring Nordschleife, Pikes Peak, Tianmen). And what does a street-legal electric R have to be capable of? “Let's take the Golf R as a benchmark. This is a first vehicle that is fully suitable for everyday use, not a second or third car just for fun. An Elektro-R is no exception. At the moment, however, I am not yet sure what a potential customer will enjoy with an electric car who is enthusiastically driving one with a combustion engine today. I don't think that this is reduced to longitudinal acceleration, ”says Capito. Rather, it is important to use the specific advantages such as fast and precise force distribution and the low and central center of gravity. The disadvantage: the weight. When will such a car comecould? Capito dampens expectations: “In any case, longer than two years, because the approval of the battery alone takes around four years, at least currently. The release times are also reduced. ”
Touareg R will be a plug-in hybrid
First of all, VW R will be showing the first plug-in hybrid, the Touareg R. Its drive train largely corresponds that of the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Otherwise no electrification measures planned? “That depends a lot on the legislation. Euro 7 should come in 2023, now it will probably be 2025, for which there will be a further tightened Euro 6 standard. But what does it look like? Is Lambda1 already mandatory or not? It all has a significant impact. This year we will come back with some combustion engines that are not electrified. We can't go our own way, it has to be based on what's coming in the series. After all, R models should be affordable performance vehicles, ”answers Capito.
The Golf R will follow this year with a 333 PS two-liter TSI engine - without electrification, as the group is focusing on the 1.0 and 1.5 engines more relevant in terms of sales volume (eTSI). The specialty of the Golf: A differential on the rear axle that can distribute the torque between the rear wheels in a targeted manner in order to increase agility - not only on snow, especially on asphalt. But that sounds like it could be even more fun on the frozen Arvidsjaursjön. Jost Capito gets back into the T-Roc R, the four-pipe exhaust system from specialist Akrapovic rolls out a snotty, thunderous carpet of sound behind the VW, a train of snow dust is attached to the rear. The sound of the Passat, on the other hand, seems very dull, but the snow drag is no less spectacular than that of the T-Roc. The view will probably not clear up that quickly here.